Austin Says It Was Very Hard For Him To Walk Away From Wrestling

Jan 10, 2020 - by James Walsh

In an interview with Bleacher Report, Stone Cold Steve Austin spoke about how hard it was for him to walk away from wrestling when he was forced to retire from the ring in 2003. Here are highlights:

On his popularity: “Everything is timing. If I’d have come around 20 years earlier, I would have been a complete heel my whole career. I was certainly non-traditional for a babyface. People wanted a different brand of entertainment than they had been used to. I broke from the mold and was a guy that was running in the gray area. You didn’t know what Stone Cold was going to do, but he was wildly entertaining. One of the things that really helped me out was the commentary of Jim Ross, just the way he backhandedly put me over. I just think it was high-energy. I think it was the intensity, and I think there was an honesty to that character. I was trying to do the one thing that everybody should aspire to: to be the champion, by any means necessary.”

On his retirement: “They always ask me, ‘Do you miss it?’ No, man, because it’s been so long now that … I mean, I have to be over it now. But there is a small part of me, even though I don’t live in the past, that says, ‘Man, when you’re 38 years old, man, in wrestling, you’re really in your prime.’ All of the learning that I’d done, working angles, talking promos, psychology with the crowd. You’re really honed up at that age. And so to walk away from the table at seemingly a prime-time age was very, very tough for me to do, at many levels.”

On making the decision himself: “I spent a lot of time hunting, fishing and drinking. Just trying to deal with it. … To walk away from the business was hard. I was talking to Dale Earnhardt Jr. last year on my show on USA Network, about how all the concussions caught up with him, he had to pull his own plug. A doctor wasn’t going to tell him, ‘Hey, you need to quit.’ He pulled the plug on himself. I did the same thing. A doctor didn’t look me in the eyes and say, ‘Steve, you must retire now.’ It was a decision I had to make for myself. When you’re flying high, and you’re this badass, tough-ass Stone Cold guy, and all your peers are just as tough as you, and you’re riding down the road doing something you’re so passionate about and you love so much, it would be anybody’s dream to live that kind of life. And all of a sudden you’ve got to make a decision to take yourself out of the game. It was extremely hard to deal with.”

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